Press Review

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The polling stations open today and all major Czech newspapers reflect that fact on their front pages. For example, the editorial in Lidove noviny, written by the editor-in-chief himself, lists five reasons why people should vote.

The polling stations open today and all major Czech newspapers reflect that fact on their front pages. For example, the editorial in Lidove noviny, written by the editor-in-chief himself, lists five reasons why people should vote.

These elections will decide who will lead the nation into the European Union. They will choose the new prime minister - the most powerful person in Czech democracy. The elections will indirectly point towards the future successor of Vaclav Havel whose mandate will run out next year. The elections will influence the future style of the never-ending transformation of Czech economy. And finally, the act of casting a vote is a unique experience, a moment when the

past gives birth to the future, the editor-in-chief of Lidove noviny concludes his list of reasons why to vote.

The editor-in-chief of Mlada fronta Dnes also writes his own editorial and entitles it "Elections as a marriage of convenience". He likens the parties to potential fiancées and says none of them is beautiful, brilliant or a virgin. If we cannot vote with our hearts, we should vote with our heads, suggests Mlada fronta Dnes, adding we should immediately strike the Communists off the list of potential marriage candidates. All the other major parties are suitable matches for a marriage of convenience although not necessarily convenient.

On its front page Mlada fronta Dnes carries a photo from the last pre-election meeting of the Civic Democrats in Prague's Old Town Square where some 10,000 people turned up to support the party. The photo shows the leader of the Civic Democrats, Vaclav Klaus, kissing the popular singer and his party's supporter Lucie Bila on the cheek after she has sung one of her hit songs dedicated to him. The title of the song was "Requiem", Mlada fronta Dnes does not fail to add.

Staying with Mlada fronta Dnes, the paper writes about an alleged attempt at manipulation of the election results at the Chanov district in the north Bohemian town of Most, inhabited mostly by Romanies. Almost 900 people found envelopes with only the Social Democrats' ballot papers in their letterboxes. The postman who delivered the ransacked envelopes is now facing up to three years in jail.

Both Mlada fronta Dnes and Lidove noviny report that the police detained a protester at the Civic Democrats' meeting on Thursday. The papers say that all the Dutch artist and opponent of Mr Klaus' party did was walk around with a banner reading "The success of the Civic Democrats is not in the nation's interest". After failing to keep the protester away from the meeting, the police detained him and escorted him to a police station.

Hospodarske noviny writes that the result of this weekend's elections will be determined by the as yet undecided voters. According to a recent poll there are up to 14 percent of people willing to vote but not knowing whom. The paper says that as soon as those tens of thousands of undecided Czechs cast their votes this weekend, all matches and coalitions between the parties will be possible.

On a similar note Pravo writes that first-time voters will probably decide who to vote for only in the last moment. According to a research conducted by the paper, neither pre-election meetings, nor TV spots appeal to young people. More often they are attracted by famous faces backing the parties or the personalities of the politicians themselves.

Pravo also comments on the fact that people won't be able to cast their votes at the Ruzyne international airport in Prague this year. Unlike in the previous elections the new election law does not allow the local authority to open a polling booth at the airport. People who wish to vote at the airport will have to travel two stops by bus to the nearest polling station.